Friday, June 27, 2014

KnowKnits Bracelet

One of my birthday gifts this year was a Know Knits Bracelet kit. It has enough yarn to knit one of the two patterns included. This is the Miami colorway and puts me in the mind of the beach.

I went with the Twist instructions. It shows off the two different colors and allows the gitte bits to pop out. I made mine slightly smaller because my wrists are tiny. However, I probably should have done a little bigger for fitting it over my hand! Oops!!! Oh well, a little blocking took care of that issue. I also used a mattress stitch to seam the pieces together so that the joins are undetectable.

Although I couldn't find KnowKnits kits for this bracelet, I did find a link for their newest ones which are beautiful! They also make great knit project bags.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Inspirational Journal

Earlier this year I started a journal to record design ideas and what not. (Totally a suggestion from my friend Christina.) One afternoon while Patrick was watching the World Cup and baseball, I sat down with a stack of cards I received over the last few years, postcards from our travels, some picture copies, a stack of magazines, and a few other odds and ends. I was determined to make all the pages pretty to help inspire me for new designs, crafts I want to do, books I want to read, etc.

I'm lucky enough to get handmade cards from my MIL and Aunt. I took the stack of those and put them throughout the journal. Years ago Patrick used to collect postcards for his office board. Now that he is at home and we are in an electronic world, the post cards were in a big stack in our memory box. I picked out some that I loved and pasted those in. This is one of my favs that we got on our honeymoon. This two-page spread is to write down blogs/podcasts I want to check out and books/movies/shows I want to read or watch.

These two spreads are for some future plans I have in the works. I love this air plant chandelier! AND, other than the plants (which you can get really cheap, btw) I have all of the other parts. The inspirational plans for turning our dining room into a brighter place with some reclaimed furniture will be a much longer and bigger project, but here are my beginning thoughts.

Then there are all those handouts from TNNA and cards you receive and tuck away. Why not use those, too!?! This quote is a favorite of mine. 

Some patterns I want to check out...alongside reminders of our trips.

Little E because who can't be inspired by such cuteness!?!

The front of the journal is still holding up well and I added this reminder to the inside front. Because, well, it doesn't.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Millie Infinity Scarf in Hawthorne

You can now get the Brownie Knits original design Millie Infinity Scarf via Knit Picks! Knitted out of one skein of Knit Picks Hawthorne, this is my favorite version of Millie. The colorway is Sunnyside and it is a beautiful blush rose color. One skein will make a Millie, but you will use just shy of it ALL!

You can purchase the pattern here, for just $2.99.

For those who purchased the pattern prior to 6/17/14, there was a slight (but important) line missing! After you CO, place a marker and join into the round, being careful not to twist your sts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yarn Crawl, Part II Simply Socks and the Start of My Socks

After our adventure at the Hoosier Hills Fiber Fair, we headed up to Simply Socks the next day for their 9-year anniversary celebration. They had these adorable kits with special bags from Bird Leg Bags and this yummy colorway from Turtlepurl yarns. The store was popping with people and it was great to see them doing so well.

After returning home and doing some work during the week, I casted on my Funny Valentine socks. Here they are!!! I had planned to knit them on vacation but got an early start!

Yarn: Safari Sock in Funny Valentine
Needle: US 2
Pattern: Making it up as I go along and trying a St st heel this time.
Techniques: Trying out Magic Loop and it is speeding things along.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Yarn Crawl...Like I Need More Yarn, Part I Hoosier Hills

A few weekends back, despite the fact that I didn't need one single ball or skein or yarn, we ventured out on Friday to a local fiber fair and on Saturday to some shops a few hours away. It was really out of a desire to fill up our time with something that I would enjoy, get my mind off things, and enjoy being together. (I'm sure Patrick also didn't mind hitting up a brew pub! Gotta get something in there for such a patient guy.)

Cutie bunny...if only the ones who live in our back yard were this cute.

One of my happy finds was soap. Yes, soap. After 13 years, I finally ran out of all my Eucalan so it was time to buy another bottle. It is by far my favorite way to care for my knits. In the last week I've had four different people comment on my "soft" skin. What is my secret has been their question. I always use soap that has shea butter in it. Whether it is my Oil of Olay shea butter body wash or bar soap. It can be really difficult for me to find soaps and such that don't give me a headache and bother my allergies. So, I stick with scents like cucumber and floral scents for me and lavender makes me so ill.

Only a few skeins of yarn were purchased...both for socks. The red one is Funny Valentine (for me) and the blue one is Tardis (for PK). The yarn is Safari Sock by AdventuresNYarnCraft. She also offers her stuff on her Etsy shop by the same name. It is a fabulous yarn and the colors are great. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Joy in Old Photos

As I journey through the loss of my mother, I've been delving into old photos and that has brought a bit of joy into the day. It brings a smile to my face to see pictures of loved ones from years past. I realized how blessed I was to not only have my Gram who I get to visit in a few weeks (woohoo!), but I also had the following three people in my life as GRANDparents. Why the GRAND, you ask?

This is Alex. When I was very young, we rented a home from her and her husband, Sam (pictured below). Alex was from Russia and was in a concentration camp during the war. She lost her entire family in those horrible events. Sam was a young solider in the US Army and, as it was always told to me, he rescued Alex from the camp and brought her over to the States. They were married and started their life together. After a tragic miscarriage, they adopted a son and settled in Indiana, where Sam was born. It was during these years that my family came to know Alex and Sam. My mom would sit with Alex every Christmas and write out her Christmas cards for her. Alex would bake me special treats for these visits and she would sit me at her little bar to eat them. There was a photo of a glamorous women hanging nearby and I asked her who it was. She told me it was her and wasn't she so beautiful? At the time, mom and Alex giggled and I went on believing for YEARS that it was her. One day, watching TV the picture came on the screen and it was Marilyn Monroe!!! Alex, despite the many harsh events in life that later included losing her adopted son, was always smiling and positive. She was also the first fashionista in my life. Oh how she loved to go and get perfume, clothes, some bling, and make up at the large department stores. No matter what or when, she was always dressed up. In many ways, she treated me like a granddaughter. She would bring all the free samples and bags over to me. I credit her for my ongoing bling and make up addiction. While neither Sam nor Alex were movie stars, I certainly think they look like they could be in these photos! 

In addition to my Gram and my bonus grandparents, I was lucky enough to have 16 years with this lovely woman. My Grandma was one of the best people I've ever known. Her patience, love, and caring were never-ending. I got my thick, thick, thick, (can I say thick) hair from her. I also got my chubby cheeks from her, too! When I am asked about Grandma Fields, one of my first thoughts always goes to her calling me Toot Toot. Okay, not for the reason you are thinking! I played trumpet from 6th grade through high school and she brought out that nickname one day and it stuck. 

She played a huge roll in my love of reading. We would go to the library at least once a week and she introduced me to Agatha Christie after I went through the kids and young adult books. She also used to challenge me to read biographies to learn about others and a world outside of our small town. Every year for Christmas, I make dumplings how she taught me and wonder how in the world she could stand how slow and sloppy I had to be as a 6-year-old rolling out dough!

And one more story about Grandma that she loved to tell. I was staying the night with her and fell asleep on the couch after a long day of hula hooping. She picked me up to carry me to bed, forgot about an empty box in the middle of the room, and promptly tripped and dropped me in the box. All I remember about this is waking up in a box with my body folded in half and my grandmother laughing so hard she was crying. Her laugh was infectious and I started giggling, too. It probably took us a good five minutes to wrangle me out of that box!

Friday, June 6, 2014

TNNA Recap

This blog post is WAY late, but to say I've had some other things get in the way is a severe understatement. So, things happen when they happen these days. I was very excited to attend TNNA under my own designer name for the first time. As an employee of a retailer, I had attended many shows in the past, but there is something about representing yourself that is freeing and exciting. I slapped on my little badge and off I went to class on Thursday afternoon. I took a writing/editing patterns course that spanned Thursday night and Friday morning. Ugh, Friday morning came SO early that day. In a lot of ways, the class was a reconfirmation of how much my publishing career has helped me in my pattern writing and editing. We discussed things like conventions and templates. We went over writing your own style sheets and guides. Having written manuals of these things in my book publishing career, it is one of the first things that I did for Brownie Knits. If you write your own patterns, it is SUCH a good thing today. It will help you with consistency and take away some of the picky thinking that you have to do so that you can concentrate on the creative and fun side of designing. (It will also save you money on tech editing because the pattern will be cleaner and take less time for the TE.)

Side note: TNNA stands for The National Needlearts Association and it is a trade only show. Members are retail shops, designers, teachers, and other vendors who support crafts in needlearts.

But, like any knitting or crochet related class I take, I always come away questioning myself. Am I good enough? Does anybody really care to make what I design? How do these designers design without actually making the garment they are designing? Why does my mind process things differently from other people? And, is that a good or bad thing? These are all questions that surface when I take a class. No. Matter. What. Class. I've long since learned that this is just my personality type. My insecurities abound when in groups where you can fall into the comparison game. So, this time, I reminded myself of this on Friday night and tried very hard to let it all roll right off. Because the reality is that I'm not the greatest and I'm not the worst. That I am who I am and there are people who buy and make my patterns. The best I can do is design things that I like and want to make and design them in a way that I enjoy. The best I can do is provide accurate and well-written patterns and support my customers on their journey of creativity. I'm not teaching something that will win them a Nobel prize, but I am involved in an art and that is important, too, in a very different way. 

Saturday morning it was off to market with two of my closest friends and fellow yarnies. Both do work for Brownie Knits in forms of test knitting/crochet and editing. We set out with no concrete agenda outside of (for me) introducing myself to a few key vendors whose yarns are ones I design with a lot and to find a few people on the floor who I work with so that we could put names with faces. At the end of the day, I came away with four times the contacts I had as a goal, so I declared it a success! 

So what did we see that made us feel excited? That's what you really want to know, right!?! Here we go! I apologize first for not having more pictures. I was following the old rules of not taking pictures on the show floor. Apparently, it is okay to do this now as I've seen tons of pictures from other attendees, so next year I'll be sure to snap lots. I'm not a spinner, but I did grab a free roving sample from the Great Wall of Yarn. I just couldn't resist this bit from Sweet Georgia. I LOVE her yarn, so I can only imagine how great it would be for spinners to have this option. I was instantly drawn to her colors over the many other roving options that were close by. My little snack of roving will probably turn into some funky thrummed mittens or such.  

In terms of yarn, I was super impressed by Baa Ram Ewe Titus. First off, she is British and what American can't listen to their accent and speech patterns all day! Second, the yarn was so soft, full of drape, and yummy. The colors are all inspired by areas in their region (see the photos on the left...they inspired the color on the right). If I had to select one word to describe this yarn it would be feminine. It just looks so elegant, feels so soft, beautiful with a glow around it...feminine. 

From their website:
350 yards (320 metres) per 100g hank
50% Wensleydale 
20% Bluefaced Leicester 
30% UK Alpaca 
100% British

In terms of books and patterns, it probably isn't a huge shock that I was drawn to a book of afghan designs. I do so love to knit and crochet afghans. The new book (released in January), Building in Color, by Michelle Hunter is full of inspiring instruction. The book walks you through 10 patterns that you can combine together to form a gorgeous afghan. It is a follow up to her Building Blocks book. It really appealed to the teacher in me, too. The book is set up in such a great way and it would make a wonderful ongoing class at your LYS. 

Overall, the day was a fun one spent hanging out with good friends and lots of yarn. There were many other things that we saw, but I tried to pick my favorite yarn and pattern out to share here. I hope you are able to find some treasures as you head out to your LYS this summer and fall!